Police officers in Springfield are getting spring training started a little earlier than usual.
They are trying to collect as much baseball gear as possible to give to kids in need in the Dominican Republic.
Every year, Springfield Police Officer Giselle Pica visits a place near and dear to her heart - the Dominican Republic.
It's there Pica has witnessed countless kids less fortunate than others, just trying to live their dream - hitting balls around the baseball diamond and sliding into home plate.
Unfortunately for them, it's not that simple.
"The kids there, they play baseball, their cleats are taped up, and play really with sticks and bottle caps," Pica said.
Pica shared these stories to her partner, Officer Mark Kenney, who thought first of his old cleats and gloves collecting dust in the garage.
It was then clear what they wanted to do: collect as much baseball gear as possible for the kids, just in time for Pica's next visit.
"It gives the equipment a second chance, gives it to somebody that could really use it," Kenney said.
The police department will be accepting donations all month long.
Used or left over gloves and cleats are preferred, but any gear is appreciated. They are also taking monetary donations to ship the equipment down, so Pica can hand deliver it to baseball fields in the area this April.
These officers are also mothers and fathers and they said there is no better feeling than putting a smile on a kid's face, especially those who need it most.
"As people, as mothers, we should all help each other. This is just one little thing, one little piece, that I can do to help," Pica added.
Pica told Western Mass News that her 15 year old son hopes to play at Central High School this spring.
Officer Kenney and his son are no strangers to the game either. It's a bond he hopes they will share for decades to come.
"My son and I enjoy Red Sox games. We take our gloves just in case. Baseball is the great American past time, it brings us all together," Kenney added.
Donations can also be dropped off at Guardian Uniform and Supply on Robbins Road.
Western Mass News is teaming up with the Springfield Police Department.
We will be accepting baseball donations all month long as well. They said they can really use gloves and cleats.
Donations can be dropped off in the lobby of our studio at 1300 Liberty Street in Springfield, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Gear will be accepted until the end of February.
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